The people who invested in Cindy Sehnert are getting their money's worth.
Last summer, Sehnert qualified for the U.S. swimming team that will compete in the 13th World Games for the Deaf in Bucharest. Romania, July 16-26. But there was a hitch: she had to raise $2,500 before she could go.
The deaf team receives no financial help from the government, so each athlete is forced to find his or her own money for the trip.
Fortunately for Sehnert, who has been deaf since birth, she had plenty of help.
The Quota Club, a women's organization in Arlington, raised some money. Yorktown High, Sehnert's school, had a "Cindy Day," and students sold everything from buttons to prints by an area artist.
The Arlington Aquatic Club, which has three swimmers in the Games, held a "swimathon." (The other swimmers are Pam Skerlock and Lori Manson.)
Sehnert embarked on a mini-lecture tour to raise funds. She has always been able to talk, and most of the groups she spoke to were over-whelmed.
"Most of these people had never heard a deaf person talk," said her father, Dr. Deith W. Sehenrt. "They were all quite taken aback.
"She gave one particularly good talk to the Georgetown Kiwanis. At the end of the talk, they got together and learned some sign language, and they spelled out 'I love you' to Cindy. That was quite an experience."
The Sehnerts also received contributions from relatives and friends. "They're still coming in," said Dr. Sehnert, author of "How to Be Your Own Doctor." "It's hard to utrn them off," he said.
His wife added that extra money contributed was forwarded to the World Games to help those athletes who didn't raised the needed amount.
Sehnert, who will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke events, has put the contributions to good use.
In pre-Games training in Morganton, N.C., she wrote her parents that she rose at 5 a.m. each day and swam for two hours. The rest of the morning was filled with exercising and there was a second swimming session in the afternoon. But the hard work didn't get her down.
"I made friends with almost all the athletes in two days. Everyone was interested in asking others their names and what they were doing."
Among the other athletes were Patti Ferebee of Norfolk (discus, javelin). Jeff Spielberger of Newport News (track team manager); Mike Ritter of Charlottesville (pole vault), and Dan Huskerson of Burke (800, 1,500 meters).
Sehnert's parent's credit their daughter's friendship with the women's swimming coach as inspiring her to try for the team.
"Kathy Sallade from Gallaudet was a student who won a medal in the 1973 Deaf Olympies," Mrs. Sehnert said. "They'd become very good friends and that was really how Cindy found out about the World Games."
"I had a fantastic time," Sehnert wrote about camp. "The boys on the swim team were just great (and good looking!)." The only things she complained about were the pool (small, shallow and only four lanes) and the lack of postage stamps.
"As her parents, we can see how she's bloomed," her father said. "She's acquired confidence, peer acceptance. It's made her a whole different person."
Her coach in Arlington. V. J. Meleski, said her hearing problem was only a minor hindrance in their communication.
"It takes a little more time and effort, but with patience and time, you overcome it.She's very self-demanding person . . . But she's a very pleasant person to work with."
"This (the World Games gives her a chance to realize her leadership capabilities," her father said. "Experience and the bonus that comes from recognition, that's the end result of all this business.
"They could cancel the Games tomorrow and she'd still be a winner."